Baylor, save me a seat: Registration needs revamping

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

The dreaded season is just around the corner: Students wake up at 6 a.m. just to have the possibility of getting into classes they need to graduate, only to be waitlisted for the third time in a row. You guessed it … we are talking about registration.

Registration is drastically different for every student. If you are a part of the list of early registration students, or if you had college credits before you came to Baylor, you might never experience the impending doom of not getting into classes. However, for those who do, registration can create unnecessary stress that leads them to question why they went to a school that prioritizes small class sizes in the first place.

Baylor’s fall 2023 enrollment consisted of 15,155 undergraduate students. The average class size is currently 28 students per classroom — a 16:1 ratio of students to faculty. Baylor prides itself on small class sizes and intimate learning environments, and the personal relationships between students and professors are a big selling point of the university.

According to the registration website, the process is seemingly simple. Schedule a 30-minute appointment with your adviser, create your tentative schedule on Bearweb and click “register” on your respective date and time. For the first year or two of college, the process may stay as easy as that, but as you reach the 3000- and 4000-level classes that are required for your major, it is a different story.

Suddenly, you are no longer registering for a general lecture with plenty of available seats and sections. Instead, you are registering for a class of 13 people with only one professor who is qualified to teach a niche topic.

For example, according to Baylor’s enrollment data, there are 68 juniors and seniors in the English department this semester. Those students are registering for the same four classes each semester, with the maximum number of seats in each one being 10-15. The number of available seats is disproportionate to the number of students who need to take those classes to graduate.

This struggle exists beyond the English department. Oftentimes, the smaller departments only have the bandwidth to have 10-15 students in a class and to offer a specific section one semester of the year. Students who want to graduate on time are left to scramble to register for the necessary classes in the specific terms they are offered.

What makes matters worse is that registration dates and times are based on how many credit hours a student has. Theoretically, a freshman who comes in with dual credit hours can register earlier than a junior who is looking to graduate within a four-year timeline. This presents the question, should a student’s registration date and time be based on credit hours or seniority?

Registration is frustrating for many students, no matter which university they attend. In 2022, University of Texas students shared their grievances in their student publication, and they were similar to those of Baylor students: Class sizes are disproportionate to the number of students who attend the university.

There is no clear solution to the registration problem. On one hand, students love intimate class sizes, in which they are one of a few people whom the professor truly gets to know and not just another face in an auditorium. However, students also need the guarantee that they will be able to take the classes they need to graduate — and being on a waitlist until the first week of the semester causes unnecessary stress for those who simply want to get their degree.

Students, take advantage of the full 30-minute appointment with your adviser. Plan out multiple different classes you can take instead of waiting until you find yourself on a waitlist to choose alternatives. And remember to always register for a class in place of the one for which you are waitlisted; you can always drop a class, but you can’t always add one last minute.

Planning ahead and knowing the reality of registration will help tremendously in the process. Always communicate with your adviser and evaluate all of your options. This may be a stressful time of year, but taking these steps will hopefully ease the chaos of registration.

However, there’s only so much preparation a student can do to help their experience with the process. Perhaps it’s time to give the registration process itself some attention. After all, what’s the harm in adding a handful of seats to classes and giving upperclassmen first dibs on Bearweb?